Qatar’s biggest shopping mall remained closed on Tuesday as authorities investigated a fire that ripped through its daycare center and other areas, killing 19 people, including 13 children, according to local media reports.
This story first appeared in the May 30, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Villaggio Mall, which opened in 2006, features attractions such as the Venetian-inspired Gondolania theme park in addition to brands ranging from luxury labels like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton to high street chains like Zara, Gap and Marks & Spencer.
A spokesman for The Body Shop said the L’Oréal-owned brand’s store in the mall had been affected by the fire. “I do not know to what extent at present,” he said. “But our staff are all safe. Our thoughts are of course with those less fortunate.”
A spokeswoman for Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M said all its employees were unharmed.
“This is a tragic accident and our thoughts go out to the families affected,” she said. “According to the latest information we have received from our franchise partner, the store has not sustained any material damage. The mall will stay closed until further notice.”
A spokesman for retail-to-luxury group PPR, whose Bottega Veneta and Gucci brands are present in the Via Domo section of the mall, said none of its employees were harmed and its stores did not sustain any damages.
A spokesman for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton said it was still seeking information about the potential impact of the fire on its employees and stores, but its partners in the region had been unreachable so far.
The Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.’s MAC Cosmetics- and Jo Malone-branded stores in the mall were not damaged, and none of its employees were harmed in the blaze.
“It’s truly a tragedy that many innocent lives were lost,” said a company spokeswoman. “The Estée Lauder Cos. remain available to show support of any kind to our retail partner Alhaya.”
Located in the western part of Doha, Villaggio receives an average of 42,000 visitors daily and has an average footfall of more than 1.2 million people a month.
The fire has raised questions about safety measures in the huge shopping centers that dot the Gulf region.